After decriminalizing cannabis in 2015, Jamaica is ready to cash in on new weed-related projects. In a move to cater to tourists looking for a green vacation, the country revealed its plans to setup kiosks at the airport for medical marijuana permits.
“The thought is that if you are coming out of the airport, there is a kiosk that you can go to. So basically whoever is coming out of immigration can go to that desk and register and get that clearance,” said Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) Chairman Hyacinth Lightbourne during an interview with The Gleaner.
The CLA, a local organization that oversees key aspects of marijuana laws in Jamaica, is in the process of drafting a formal proposal that would elaborate on the mechanics of the ATMs and how the country can monetize on their investment. Ultimately, the kiosks are designed to service medical marijuana patients holding a valid prescription card in a different country. A traveler would simply need to show officials the card upon arriving at the airport. After getting cleared by a medical representative, one will receive a special permit that can be used to extend or transfer the privileges of the card to the applicable country (in this case, Jamaica). Individuals with special medical marijuana permits could purchase weed directly from a cannabis vending machine located near the clearance station.
Using the ATMs, tourists could literally get a fresh bag of cannabis before making their way to the hotel. Moreover, the CLA intends to make the permit issuance process as fast and painless as possible, in order to prevent bottlenecks and long lines at the airport. The group verified that ATMs and permit issuance booths will also be available at seaports and other entry points around the country.
Tourists without valid medical marijuana cards can still get in on the action. The local government is aware that most travelers visit Jamaica for pot, and wants to make sure that everyone can benefit from the weed kiosks. For recreational purposes, one could choose to “self-declare” at the cannabis-friendly ATM. Choosing this option would allow the individual to carry up to two ounces of marijuana legally (this is where the country’s decimalization laws kick in).
“It would primarily be for people who have a prescription and, in effect, you’re doing it for medicinal purposes with a permit from the Ministry of Health,” explained Lightbourne. “If they don’t have a prescription, then they can do what we call ‘self-declare,’ and this will allow them to have the two ounces while they are here.”
Police could still issue fines for possession, which is imposable through a 500-JMD ($4.50) ticket. Under Jamaica’s decriminalization laws, local residents may grow up to five plants at home. Transporting large amounts of weed is still illegal in the country, and may be treated as a criminal offense (unless you’re Rastafarian).